In a week filled with many surprises, Week 10 left us with plenty obvious winners and losers. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Winners: Tennessee Titans (Won 34-10 vs NE)
Coming into this week’s home matchup against the Patriots, the Titans weren’t given much of a chance by many to win this game. They responded by absolutely demolishing the two-time reigning AFC Champs. On offense, Tennessee established themselves early, scoring on their first three possessions. Marcus Mariota had by far his best game of the season, throwing for 228 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 125 passer rating. On the ground, Derrick Henry finally broke out, averaging 5.7 yards per carry for 58 yards and a score. Heck, even young receiver Corey Davis had an outstanding game with 125 receiving yards and a touchdown. When the big three of Mariota, Henry, and Davis is clicking, the Titans offense can actually be a potent force. On defense, Tennessee destroyed Tom Brady, pressuring him constantly. They held him to a 70.6 passer rating, held New England to 40 yards rushing and to a 20% third down conversion rate. The Titans played a flawless game, and they were rewarded with a huge win over a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Now at 5-4, they have a chance to make serious noise both in the AFC South and in the AFC wildcard. It won’t be easy, but they have a chance to take control of the division with consecutive road games against division rivals in the Colts and the Texans.
Loser: Cincinnati Bengals (Lost 51-14 at NO)
With a home win over the Saints on Sunday, the Bengals could have put themselves in a great position to make the playoffs. Instead, they did what the Bengals always do. They came out flat in a crucial game. Cincinnati was downright embarrassing on both sides of the ball. On offense, they couldn’t move the ball against arguably the league’s worst pass defense after an opening score, totaling just 284 yards with a lot of that total coming in garbage time. They were so inefficient, that they didn’t convert on a single third down. Not one! Andy Dalton was pressured constantly, and threw up a ball to safety Marcus Williams that proved to be a dagger in what became a fourteen point turn around before the half. (Bengals were in great position to score, interception led to Saints touchdown) It gets even worse on defense. The Bengals allowed the Saints on every single possession, and couldn’t even stop them when it was clear New Orleans was trying to run out the clock. The Saints ran for 244 yards, which led to them having the ball TWICE as long as the Bengals. In total, Cincinnati was outgained by 225 yards (In theory could’ve been worse), was at one point losing by 44 points, and quit at halftime. This game proved that until the Bengals fire head coach Marvin Lewis, they’ll never be able to get over the hump and will have to be content with being an undisciplined team that just misses the playoffs every year. Next week’s matchup at the Ravens is pretty much for their season.
Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers (Won 52-21 vs CAR)
Thursday Night’s matchup between the Panthers and Steelers was supposed to give us a close game between two Super Bowl contenders. Instead, the Steelers completely blew out the Panthers, and solidified themselves amongst the NFL’s best. After allowing an opening score touchdown, Pittsburgh scored 24 unanswered. Once Carolina scored again, they scored another 27 unanswered. That just shows how dominant the Steelers can be. Ben Roethlisberger had more touchdowns (5) than he had incompletions (3), and had a perfect passer rating. Even with that dominance, they still were able to run when they needed to, (130 yards, 4.6 yards per carry) which made the offense unstoppable. Their offensive line allowed just one sack, and gave Roethlisberger all day to throw, which allowed for several big plays down the field. There is simply not weakness for this offense, and when there defense is clicking, they’re the best team in the NFL. That’s what happened, as the Steelers held the Panthers to 242 total yards, pressured Cam Newton throughout the whole game, and forced two turnovers- one being a interception by linebacker Vince Williams that was returned for a touchdown. The Steelers are on a roll right now, and it’s clear if anyone can stop them. Next up, the sinking Jaguars. (who we’ll get to in a moment)
Loser: New York Jets (Lost 41-10 vs BUF)
No one thought that the Jets were going to make the playoffs this season. However, they were supposed to be competitive this season. Instead, they look even worse from the 5-11 team they had last year. Against a Bills team that was starting their fourth quarterback of the season in Matt Barkley – who signed just two weeks prior to the game and hadn’t played in a NFL game in over a year- the Jets were humiliated in every facet of the game. The offense didn’t even have 200 yards of offense, and converted just 1 of 12 third downs. It’s clear that Josh McCown is no longer capable of even being a fill in quarterback, which the Jets may need him to be depending on the severity of Sam Darnold’s foot injury, as he threw two interceptions and had a passer rating of 35.8. Even worse, the defense that was supposed to be a strength was dominated by a offense that was scoring just 10.9 points per game heading in. They allowed 451 total yards, couldn’t stop the run nor the pass, and even let left tackle Dion Dawkins score a touchdown. That’s right, the left tackle for the lowest scoring offense had as many touchdowns as the Jets on Sunday. This game likely cost head coach Todd Bowles his job, as it’s unacceptable for a young team to regress this badly. It gets worse; the angry Patriots are coming to town following a Week 11 bye for both sides. Yikes.
Winner: Chicago Bears (Won 34-22 vs DET)
I tried to warn you. Before the season, I picked the Bears to win the NFC North. With an improving offense to go along with the league’s best defense, they had the makings of one of the NFL’s best teams. This week’s win against a Lions team that beat up on the Patriots and the Packers proved that Chicago is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Don’t let the final score fool you, this game was never close. In fact, the Bears led 26-0 right before halftime. Had they had a capable kicker, (Cody Parkey missed two extra points and two field goals) they would’ve dropped 40. Mitch Trubisky once again looked like a franchise quarterback and the perfect fit for Matt Nagy’s offense, throwing for 355 yards, three touchdowns, and completing 77% of his passes. He distributed the ball around- two recievers had well over 100 yards- and flawed a flawless game. The defense continued to dominate. They sacked Matthew Stafford six times, forced three turnovers, and held Stafford to a passer rating of 75. The scary part? This is just a typical day for the Bears defense, who are capable of stopping anyone when star edge rusher Khalil Mack is healthy. They’ll have a chance to put their claim in on the division, as they’ll host the Vikings in a Sunday Night thriller.
Loser: Jacksonville Jaguars (Lost 29-26 at IND)
Despite being the scapegoat of the Jaguars, quarterback Blake Bortles threw for 320 yards and had a passer rating of 111.7. The result? Another Jags loss. Maybe Bortles isn’t the only problem after all? The defense was once again exposed, as Andrew Luck was not sacked once and threw for 285 yards, three touchdowns, and made it look easy. Tight end Eric Ebron even had three touchdowns in just the first half. Just to get an interception, they needed the ball to bounce of off Colts reciever Mo Allie-Cox’s hands. Bortles also had no help on offense, as Jacksonville averaged just 2.7 yards per carry and reciever Rashad Greene fumbled the ball when the Jags had a chance to tie or win the game late. The offense is suspect in all categories, and the defense is far from the perfect unit they were made out to be. Jacksonville has the makings off a one-hit wonder, a team that took advantage of Luck and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to go along with a fourth place schedule and can’t compete in a division with those two back and a tougher schedule. Even more concerning, the Jaguars had another eight penalties and had several miscommunications on both sides of the ball. It may be time to let head coach Doug Marrone go, as he has no grip on this team and hasn’t been able to inspire them in anyway what so ever. Now, they get to continue their fall against the Steelers, who as mentioned before may be the hottest team in football. Sounds like fun.